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Immigration Protests Snarl Traffic, Lead to Arrests

Immigration protests that have blocked traffic in front of House office buildings Thursday will continue throughout the afternoon, organizers told CQ Roll Call.

The coalition of immigrant rights, labor and faith leaders converging on Capitol Hill plans to visit the offices of House GOP leaders it blames for blocking progress on immigration overhaul legislation. Capitol Police have so far arrested and charged about 40 protesters with blocking passage of the street, according to Lt. Kimberly Schneider, public information officer for the Capitol Police.

“We gave them a deadline already for Aug. 2, before the recess, to have a bill introduced and they failed at that, so they are going to hear from us starting today throughout the recess, across the country,” said Xiomara Corpeno, the national campaign director for Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

Corpeno said the rally had been planned for weeks, and that the activists’ day began with a 9:30 a.m. training on civil disobedience at a nearby church. She said more than 40 organizations were represented by 250 people.

The group plans to reconvene at 2:15 p.m. and head toward House office buildings, according to a schedule shared with CQ Roll Call.

They will visit the offices of Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Among those arrested was Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, according to a statement from the union.

Medina said in a statement that the group’s action “is meant to communicate the moral urgency of reforming our broken immigration system,” and criticized House Republicans.

“Speaker [John A. Boehner] needs to understand the urgency for reform,” she said. “Until the House passes a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, we will continue to be in the streets, at town hall meetings and on the phones, demanding justice for the 11 million aspiring Americans in our country.”